In what almost reads like a plot from classic TV comedy the Beverly Hillbillies, there is something of a revolt brewing in Hollywood's famous uplands. The world's media, and numerous online gossip-mongers, have been all over the story of a proposed 42,000sq foot über-mansion and the subsequent outcry from its potential neighbors-to-be. It seems that the residents of the prestigious Beverly Hills community of Benedict Canyon are unhappy with the thought of a monster mansion in their backyard.
And the rumors that this glaring demonstration
of personal wealth is being built by a Saudi prince, under a 24
carat cloak of secrecy, seems to be fueling matters further. But
that's not all that's making the natives restless in this exclusive
millionaires' enclave. The very fact that they will have to live
alongside what will be a huge construction site for many years,
with the non-stop noise and traffic that such a project will create
seems to be too much for the residents to take. And that seems like
a pretty fair concern; if you buy a home in the famed 90210 zip
code area you're likely to feel entitled to a little privacy and
the right to speak out against a shopping mall-sized development on
the other side of your paparazzi-proof leylandii.
Of course, there are those who feel that there may be elements of sheer envy, simple xenophobia or just back-to-basics nimbyism at work here. Despite the identity of the home owner having yet to be officially confirmed, the evidence so far overwhelmingly supports the likelihood that it is indeed Prince Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud. The mystery all started following the revelation that London-based Tower Lane Properties Inc., who purchased the $12m lot, reputedly forced legal professionals and contractors to sign secrecy agreements to prevent the buyer's identity from being made public. Add to this the equally intriguing fact that the company president happens to be one Mansour Fustok, uncle of the Saudi Prince thought to be behind the plans, and a plot worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster starts to emerge.
Not In My Back Yard
Irate residents have launched a vigorous campaign to stop the
development, using arguments of unacceptable domestic disturbance,
environmental impact, threats of mudslides, and pretty much
anything else that comes to mind. The majority of press and web
reports have made considerable mention of the fact that such
celebrity heavy-weights as Bruce Springsteen, Lisa Kudrow, Jay Leno
and David Beckham all own homes in the area. Despite this
impressive roster of potential, high-profile spokespeople, the only
neighbors to have been quoted thus far are comparatively unknown
and have voiced such pressing concerns as "The pool house is bigger
than my house".
The construction, interior design and real estate industries are suffering heavily in California, as they are elsewhere. And while the owners of the 150 or so homes in Benedict Canyon may be up in arms about this damnable domicile, I expect that there may be plenty of people desperately hoping that the mansion gets the go-ahead. One can only imagine that the benefits to the local economy would be very welcome in some quarters. After all, it's not as if Hollywood isn't used to excess and vast displays of wealth, so should this me ga-mansion be given a Golden Turkey Award or should it be allowed a happy ending?